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Indian seaweed scientist wins award for diabetes breakthrough

Health Aquatic plants +1 more

An Indian scientist has been recognised for developing a series of nutraceutical products from seaweeds to treat various lifestyle diseases including diabetes.

Dr Kajal Chakraborty, principal scientist at India's Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI)

Dr Kajal Chakraborty, principal scientist at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) won the Norman Borlaug National Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research. The prize, which is only awarded once every five years, was instituted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), functioning under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare. The award comes with a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. Besides this, the scientist will be given a research grant of Rs. 1.5cr for carrying out a challenging research project for five years.

Dr Chakraborty’s research achievements involve in developing and commercialising nutraceutical products from selected seaweeds to combat rheumatic arthritic pains, type-2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia, hypertension and hypothyroidism. The latest efforts in this line of research include antiosteoporotic and immune-boost nutraceuticals, and the latter received wider attention in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. His research group developed an antimicrobial therapeutic product of heterotrophic bacterium for use against multi-resistant gram-negative pathogens.

The award was announced and presented marking the 93rd Foundation Day of ICAR. In total, CMFRI bagged four ICAR awards on the occasion. Dr Fasina Makkar, a Ph D scholar at CMFRI received the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for PG Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Agricultural and Allied Sciences. She won the award for her doctoral thesis on the topic ‘Isolation and characterization of bioactive compounds from marine macroalgae Kappaphycus alvarezii and Gracilaria opuntia.’

Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar presented the awards on a virtual platform. While addressing the gathering after presenting all other ICAR awards, Tomar said that strengthening agriculture and its strong foundation through relevant research programmes could help achieve the targets of rural development of the country.